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The Space Between Influence & Potential - I Am

Through my train of thought jumping from one track to the next and next this morning, I found my mind hovering over Elijah Muhammad, which caused it to wander to a thought that brought up a significant question for me – a question that made me reconsider a long-held belief of mine – and not just a belief that I stumbled upon or was indoctrinated into to, but a belief that I had formed over years of careful exploration and stringent challenging.

I love those questions!

The thought my mind wandered to was, “If being the victim of racism has made you a racist, you are no better – you’re still just a racist.” It made perfect sense to me: While the source and cause of your prejudices may be understandable, they are only truly significant for understanding and self exploration to learn how to undo the damage that has been done – not to serve as a ready excuse for your appalling behavior.

This long-held belief I referred to has always been a bit of a point of internal contention for me and this is why I explored it so much and kept coming back to challenge it over and over again. “I am the result of my experiences.” In other words, I am product the countless influences on me throughout my life. While the line between nature and nurture (if there is a discrete line) may never be quantified, nurture certainly plays a significant role in shaping the people we become. Karma is real, undeniable and wholly unavoidable.

The difficulty of this for me had always been reconciliation of external influences and personal responsibility. How much blame can be placed on the abused abuser – especially if the line between nature and nurture cannot be objectively defined? If we are who we have been influenced to be, how much responsibility can we truly have in our actions? At the same time, if free will does exist, how can we not be held responsible for our actions?

On the morning of May 19, 2010, I felt quite at ease sitting within this contentious space, for the first time ever. My perception shifted in that moment.

I love those moments!



I never doubted – and still do not doubt – that karma is a real and powerful force. I never doubted – and still do not doubt – that I greatly value acknowledging personal responsibility and accepting accountability. The perception shift that was required to take place within me was not so much one of finding balance – which I am always searching for – rather it was more a shift of perspective. I began viewing my “self” as an intersection of what has come and what is to come – the intersection of past and future forming the present at “I Am.” – the intersection of influence and intention forming the self – the intersection of instinct and free will.

Am I defined by the results of the influences upon me leading up until now or am I defined by the results of my actions going forward? Yes.



The person I have become up until now is wholly defined by my past experiences (which includes, part and parcel, the decisions I have made by my own self-determination). In other words, who I was a moment ago, is defined by karma’s influence on me.

The decisions I make in this moment are shaping who I am to become a moment from now, as well as shaping the influence I have on the world around me. In other words, the influence I have on karma is wholly defined by the decisions I make in this moment.

The self is only existent in this moment between influence & potential and is defined by action. The answer is not, as I had always assumed, striking balance between the influence karma has on me and the influence I have on karma – the answer is to exist in that space between karma’s influence on me and my influence on karma.



I have said a thousand times, “[This] is not life” and “[That] is not life” but I have never been able to say what I think life IS. Now I believe I can.

Life is being mindfully present and actively engaged in the practice of turning influence into potential with your actions.

October 19, 2010, 09:02:29 am

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Comments

lyzardly

Love this.

I've always struggled with the idea of finding balance because for something to stay balance - nothing can move or shift. It seems that to maintain balance, on some level change (positive or negative) must be hindered. I have always preferred the idea that instead of searching for balance in my life, I would do better to view my life as a constant negotiation. This idea of the past and future intersecting in the self to form the present does not strike a balance between free will and determinism, it recognizes that the self exists in a space where the negotiation of an undetermined future is to delimited by an unchangeable past.

Thank you for sharing.

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